Keith Law Draft Impact
Some of you have noticed my affinity for Keith Law’s fresh smack which is generally on time. One of our readers wrote in with the following question:
Q: When did Keith Law exit the Toronto Blue Jays organization? After going over the recent top prospects in the Jays system there appears to be many high ceiling players, the majority drafted in the past two or three years. I know the Jays ended up with a ton of draft picks via free agency compensation, so this is part of the answer. Still, do you think the minor league talent (ceiling and depth) is greater pre or post Keith Law?
Keith Law spent 4 years as the special assistant to the GM (JP) from 2001 – 2005. His role was not limited to just scouting but also included statistical analysis, contract negotiations, market analysis, research and supporting the marketing and sales staffs. That being said, I can’t say for certain that Keith played an integral role in the drafting of prospects and that there is a direct correlation between Keith leaving and the strength of post-Law draft classes. I think this is mostly due to a change in draft philosophy. Though this is strictly heresay, Keith did mention in an ESPN chat that during draft day many of the scouts, himself included pleaded for JP to take Tulowitzki instead of Ricky Romero. JP went to see both players one weekend, right after Tulowitzki came back from a wrist injury, sometime in late April. He thought Romero was the better player and wouldn’t hear any counterarguments. So six weeks before the draft the pick was pretty much decided. Based on that anecdote, who is to say how much influence anyone in his scouting department has?
JP’s modus operandi upon joining the Jays was to build a contender on a low payroll. His draft strategy reflected that, by signing lower-ceiling college players who could advance to the bigs quicker and had greater signability. Realizing that this was not going to knock off the Red Sox and Yankees, Ted Rogers drank some of Ricciardi’s fine Italian whine and boosted payroll a ton. This gave JP flexibility to go after High School prospects with greater upside/ceiling (like a Travis Snider, who wouldn’t have been given a look when JP first started) and throw a little bit more money around. I think this is more indicative of why the minor league talent has more depth and ceiling now and has nothing to do with the departure of Keith Law.
If anyone else has any other questions to roll our way, please do and we will post our responses here.